¡Que Viva el Mariachi!
Let’s Learn About The Music and Culture of Mexico!
Mariachi music emerged in the early 1850’s from the ranches and small towns of western Mexico, particularly in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán, and Colima. Today, mariachi ensembles are part of musical life in every country of the Americas. Ensembles perform in major concert halls, at wedding receptions, and for celebrations of all kinds. Dozens of major annual mariachi festivals featuring local and internationally renowned groups attract audiences of thousands— Mexican and Mexican Americans who embrace the music as a symbol of their cultural heritage and others who simply enjoy the exciting, lively sounds of the music.
Join musicians Michael Abbasspour, Gean Vincent Alemendras, and Brandon Sexton in a two part lesson to learn about the instruments in a mariachi ensemble and how they play together to create mariachi’s distinct sounds. You will even learn how to sing a mariachi song, so warm up your voice and get ready to sing along!
To learn even more about the history and culture of mariachi, explore the accompanying slides and worksheets:
Grades 2-9 (Ages 7-14)
Meet Your Teaching Artists
Michael Abbasspour is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Flint (2018) where he earned his Bachelor of Music specializing in classical guitar under the guidance of Francesco Cavallini. Along with classical guitar, Michael has also found joy in studying and performing in many other genres such as jazz, chorale, and mariachi. He is also an avid songwriter and composer.
As a mariachi, Michael has gained his knowledge and experience throughout his time as a member and educator of El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil y Mariachi (EBFEM) since 2014. During the last decade, Michael has had the opportunity to learn about the styles, history, and vibrancy of mariachi through attending many workshops, conferences, and collaborations. This includes Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference (Las Cruces, NM), National Mariachi Workshops for Educators (Las Vegas, NV), Mariachi Extravaganza Summer Camp (San Antonio, TX), collaborations with Escuela de Mariachi Ollin Yoliztli Garibaldi (Mexico), and more. As the youth music director of El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil y Mariachi, Michael has developed a deep passion and joy for teaching mariachi and how it empowers youth. He is always excited for any opportunity to share the rich culture and joy of mariachi.
Gean Vincent Almendras is an Ann Arbor based musician and instructor of mandolin, violin, and Philippine banduria. Gean graduated with degrees in Computer Information Systems and in Music, specializing in classical mandolin performance (under the tutelage of Francesco Cavallini) and a minor in violin; through the University of Michigan. Through the close tutelage of Maestro Antonio González from the Escuela de Mariachi Ollin Yolliztli Garibaldi in Mexico City, and his attendance of various International Mariachi Conferences and workshops taught by various professional Mariachi clinicians from prestigious groups like Mariachi Cobre, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, and Mariachi Los Camperos, Gean is also trained in the playing style of Mariachi violin and performs professionally with a Mariachi ensemble under the Flint-based folks arts nonprofit, El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil (EBFE). In 2014, Gean helped start —now Vice-President and Music Director of — the Philippine Arts & Culture Ensemble of Michigan (PACE-MI); a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing community-based instructional programs and resources through the promotion of Rondalla music, indigenous music, and traditional folk dance. Gean, an aspiring ethnomusicologist, is also a course lecturer of Philippine Ensemble Music at the University of Michigan Center for Southeast Asian Studies (UM-CSEAS).
Brandon Sexton earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from the University of Michigan-Flint (2022). During which time he focused largely on jazz performance and improvisation along with his studies in classical trumpet pedagogy under the direction of Dr. Chris Heidenreich. During his studies, Brandon has played in different musical settings ranging from jazz combo and big band to wind band and orchestra as well as pop and more modern settings.
Brandon started his work as a mariachi in 2018 when he joined El Ballet Folkorico Estudiantil y Mariachi. In performing with the ensemble he learned the styles and nuances of the mariachi language which have become a part of his own musical style and voice. Brandon has had the opportunity to play in many different festivals and community performances that have fully immersed him in the mariachi world growing great love and respect for the culture. He has also had the pleasure of playing with many great teachers and professional mariachis. Some of which include the Las Cruces Mariachi Festival studying with Mariachi Cobre and the most recent trip to San Antonio Texas. Brandon is the lead trumpet teacher for EBFEM’s mariachi school.